MK Tamar Zandberg of Meretz says she does not believe in God, “but I know for certain that God exists – not as a supernatural phenomenon, but as a social and political phenomenon.”
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A Haaretz survey of all 120 members of Knesset offers further reinforcement of Zandberg’s sociological insight. In the second week of September, we sent a message to the official email address of each MK, asking them to answer the question “Do you believe in God?” Two weeks later, we sent another email reminder, and then we followed up by phone with MKs who had yet to reply. Some (like Ofer Shelah of Yesh Atid) said they’d seen the email but purposely ignored it; others said they’d wanted to take time to consider how best to formulate their answer, and eventually forgot to reply. With the exception of Yesh Atid’s Yoel Razvozov, who answered with a terse “No,” all the others who supplied a one-word answer said “Yes.” Seventy-one MKs said they do believe in God; 38 either directly declined to answer or did so only after the deadline had passed. And two gave answers so convoluted as to defy characterization.
By comparison, in a similar Haaretz project in 1996, in answering the same question, 91 MKs said yes, 9 said no and 20 refused to respond. Is the rise in the number of those who declined to answer outright, or avoided giving a response, a reflection of the ideologies of new elements that have since risen to prominence in Israeli politics – elements that did not exist 20 years ago?
In Kulanu, which was created only two years ago, the breakdown reflects that of the replies in the Knesset as a whole: Seven of the party’s 10 MKs said they believe in God, two declined to answer and one did not respond at all to our inquiries. Of the 11 MKs in the four-year-old Yesh Atid party, only two said yes, one said no, six directly refused to answer and two took their time and then never provided a response. “We’ll pass,” was the terse response of the spokeswoman of Yair Lapid, head of the party.
As in 1996, we classified the responses of the MKs in this survey according to five main groups:
Group 1: Religious and ultra-Orthodox MKs, who were practically offended by the question. Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya (Joint List): “It’s ludicrous for an MK from the Islamic Movement to even answer that.” Others, though, went beyond replying with a simple “yes” when extolling God’s existence or seeking to negate any other possibility. For example, Yehudah Glick (Likud): “Any objective person ... can see with his own eyes how the words of the prophets are emerging from the Bible and turning into reality.”
Group 2: Secular or “traditional” MKs, whose belief in God is part of their identity but who do not consistently observe halakha (traditional religious law) in their daily life. “As a Jewish person, I believe in God,” said Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union). “I believe in God, in the most basic possible way, without any clever qualifications,” replied his fellow Zionist Union MK, Hilik Bar.
Group 3: Those who wanted to share their musings on the subject, to explain their every fluctuation in feeling, to the point where it was hard to tell if they believe or not. Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) candidly shared his uncertainty over the phone and then sent a written response detailing his experience in synagogue, without mentioning a word about faith. Manuel Trajtenberg, from the same party, sent a three-paragraph essay. His actual response to the question as posed, however, remains a mystery.
Group 4: Those who do not believe in God. Only nine MKs explicitly declared this, and most provided reasons too. It appears that in the present climate in this country, the nonbelievers feel a need to justify, to explain, maybe even to apologize – lest a clear and simple “no” spell political danger. Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon, who straight away declared “I don’t believe in God,” went on to cite Western philosophy, “secular thought” and “universal moral principles of love” in her response. Yossi Yonah (Zionist Union) seems to leave open the question of belief, but reflects on certain family-related religious rituals that he does observe, asking: “I wonder: Am I doing this to honor and please my father, or am I also doing this to honor his Creator?”
Group 5: The ones who declined to respond or avoided responding. The MKs in this group offered various reasons for not cooperating. Some said they were opposed to participating in surveys, others said it was a private matter, and a few, like MK Abdullah Abu Maaruf (Joint List), merely said, “I’m in favor of separation of religion and state.”
Could some of the refusals to answer be due to the fact that the MKs feel uncomfortable publicly admitting that they don’t believe in God? Oddly enough, some of the MKs who insisted in their responses that faith was a personal matter come from coalition parties like Kulanu and Likud that consistently collaborate with the ultra-Orthodox factions to support religious legislation.
Following are the responses, or lack thereof, of all 120 MKs, in alphabetical order. In cases where lengthy answers were given, they can be read in their entirety on the Haaretz Hebrew website, as noted.
Talab Abu Arar (Joint List): “Yes, I believe in God.”
Abdullah Abu Maaruf (Joint List): “I’m in favor of separation of religion and state.”
Ofir Akunis, science, technology and space minister (Likud): His spokesperson apologized for a delay in responding because of the minister being abroad and promised he would reply. No answer was received.
Eli Alalouf (Kulanu): Declined to respond.
Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beiteinu): “Yes.”
David Amsalem (Likud): “I believe in God, and seek to keep and glorify his way.”
Uri Ariel, agriculture and rural development minister (Habayit Hayehudi): Promised to provide an answer, but none was received.
Yaakov Asher (United Torah Judaism): His spokesman promised twice to relay the MK’s answer, but none was given.
Rachel Azaria (Kulanu): “I believe, but in Judaism the commandment is to love God. Twice a day we say, ‘And you shall love the Lord your God.’ I relate to the message that love is the main thing. Because love, unlike faith, is a purely emotional matter. An emotional connection. A connection to the people. A connection to the heritage. I am glad to be part of the Jewish people. I love Torah and love learning Torah. I feel connected to all the earlier generations of my people who felt the commitment and love for God and Torah. The big advantage of love is that it is constantly being shaped. Over thousands of years, Judaism and our love for it are continually being shaped anew. Day after day.”
David Azoulay, religious services minister (Shas): “I’ve devoted many years of my life to education and public service. For me, God is the only reason that gives meaning and purpose to my actions and to the world in general. I think that all positive action, all hope and faith in good, derives from a basic belief in God.”
Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Union): “I believe in God!”
Hilik Bar (Zionist Union): “I do believe in God, in the most basic and traditional way. Without any clever qualifications. I am not a religious person, and alas I am not religiously observant, but I am very traditional in my outlook, in my upbringing and in the way I live and raise my children. With this upbringing and traditional background, I do believe in God. Not that I don’t have many questions for God, including some to which I don’t have the answers. Not that I’m happy (to put it mildly) with the way the world is going, not that I don’t have any complaints or qualms. But these questions, complaints and qualms have not yet led me to doubt the existence of God, rather our part as human beings in our contract with God. I hope we all take a good look at ourselves individually and as a society, and search for a better connection with ourselves, our children and with the One above. For if we succeed in this quest, we will all be better off. God willing, of course.”
Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist Union): “Thank you, but I’d rather not participate in the project.”
Benny Begin (Likud): “Thank you, but I do not wish to participate in this project.”
Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu): "I believe in God, I always have, all my life. I come from a traditional home; I was raised with the beauty of religion and Judaism and I went to a religious school until 12th gradeI believe there is a God and I believe that the Torah is our history as a people. I pray once-a-year on Yom Kippur and I feel a connection sometimes - especially when I experience crises, I know. I think that every individual needs something or someone to believe in. It strengthens you and gives you a good reason to live."
Eli Ben-Dahan, deputy defense minister (Habayit Hayehudi): “Yes.”
Eyal Ben-Reuven (Zionist Union): “I’d rather not participate in the survey.”
Yoav Ben-Tzur (Shas): “There’s a famous saying: Where knowledge ends, faith begins. I don’t believe – I know! I know there is a Creator of the world just as I know that behind every work of art there is a creator. The universe is complex enough to make one realize that it did not emerge on its own or from a big bang, and that it has a purpose for which it was created.”
Naftali Bennett, education minister, Diaspora affairs minister (Habayit Hayehudi): “Yes.”
Anat Berko (Likud): “Yes.”
Michal Biran (Zionist Union): “I believe in God, I always have my whole life. I come from a traditional home, I was raised on the beauty of the Jewish religion and I also attended a religious school through high school. I believe there is a God, I believe that the Bible is our history as a people, I pray once a year, on Yom Kippur, and I feel connected to God at times – mainly when I am going through a crisis, I admit. I think we all need something or someone to believe in. It strengthens you and gives you a good reason to live.”
David Bitan (Likud): “Yes.”
Nava Boker (Likud): “I thank God every morning for what he has given me. I turn to God in hard times. I cry and pray to God when the pain is unbearable. When my husband Lior was killed in the Carmel fire, I couldn’t understand why it happened. I wanted to know: Where was God? Ultimately, I accepted the evil decree and kept believing. I grew up in a home where faith in God was very strong. I’ve experienced five great losses in my life – mother, sister, father, nephew and husband – and I believe that faith gives me the power to cope and strengthens me. Ultimately, I want to believe that all is for the good.”
Eitan Broshi (Zionist Union): “Sorry, can’t help you today,” his spokesman replied.
Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union): His spokesperson promised a response but it never came.
Eli Cohen (Kulanu): “I believe in God.”
Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid): “I believe in God. Belief in God is an important part of our life, something that appears throughout our history as a people. I am glad I was brought up in a traditional household that taught the importance of faith along with acceptance and respect for all human beings.”
Yael Cohen Paran (Zionist Union): “Do I believe in God? The answer is complicated, for me at least; it’s not a simple yes-or-no question. I grew up in a secular home, and my father always said that he believed in God but not in Divine providence, so I wasn’t brought up to believe in God in that way. Today I do believe in God, but my faith is complex. I believe in the existence of an infinite energy that cannot be understood or explained, that we all come from and with which we exist at all times. That unknown element in our lives that can’t be scientifically explained, that makes each one of us an independent and separate personality, that is a part of us – a part of our soul. That, to me, is God.” (The full answer appears on the Haaretz Hebrew website.)
Yitzhak Cohen (Shas): “As a Jew, I believe in the 13 Principles of Faith set out by our great teacher Maimonides.”
Arye Dery, minister for development of the Negev and Galilee; interior minister (Shas): “Certainly, I believe in God with all my heart.”
Avi Dichter (Likud): His spokesman promised an answer, but none was received.
Yuli Edelstein, Knesset Speaker (Likud): “I believe in God.”
Israel Eichler (UTJ): Declined to respond.
Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid): Declined to respond.
Zeev Elkin, environmental protection minister, minister of Jerusalem affairs and heritage (Likud): “The answer is yes.”
Gilad Erdan, public security minister; strategic affairs minister; information minister (Likud): “I believe in God.”
Roy Folkman (Kulanu): “Yes, I believe in God and turn to God from time to time. I chose to live in a moshav that has a mixed religious and nonreligious population out of a belief that on the individual level, we have a national duty to connect and create flexibility and discourse among the different groups in society.”
Oded Forer (Yisrael Beiteinu): Declined to respond.
Esawi Freige (Meretz): “I believe in a higher power. Is its name God? Call it whatever you want.”
Moshe Gafni (UTJ): “Yes.”
Yoav Galant, construction and housing minister (Kulanu): “I believe in God.”
Zehava Galon (Meretz): “I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe that God, in the religious sense, exists. I think a lot about the place that faith in a supreme being has had in human history, and of course about its meaning for our lives in the present. Even without believing in the existence of an all-powerful God, there is no doubt that there is an emotional depth and meaning that can hardly be expressed in words, a feeling that there is a purpose and a reason for our existence in the world and for our actions. Therefore, I think that one of the tremendous achievements of secular philosophy and thought is the ability to invest life with such meaning without relying on religious faith, but instead basing our ethical and emotional outlook on universal moral principles of love, liberty and mutual responsibility. The way in which we believe, or don’t believe, is a reflection of our human foundations as people, much more than it is a reflection of the religion we happen to have been born into.” (The full answer appears on the Haaretz Hebrew website.)
Gila Gamliel, social equality minister (Likud): “I keep Shabbat and host a weekly Torah class at home.”
Masud Ganaim (Joint List): “I believe in God, because no person and no life can exist without God. After this life there is no end point, there is continuity in another life filled with joy and with justice. I believe in the story of the Koran, that our first home is in Paradise and that we came down into this world to be tested, and after this world we’ll be divided into two groups – the believers, who will realize the right of return to the first homeland, and the evil, the nonbelievers, who will not be allowed to realize this right because of their evil deeds. I believe in God and in the world-to-come, where there will be no occupation, no racism and no discrimination. There will be only good, especially for peoples who were given a raw deal in this world.”
Yael German (Yesh Atid): Her spokeswoman said the MK would give us an answer but none was received, even after several reminders.
Basel Ghattas (Joint List): “I decline to answer.”
Ilan Gilon (Meretz): “What do I believe in? I believe in what Tchernichovsky wrote: ‘Laugh, laugh at all my dreams! What I dream shall yet come true! Laugh at my belief in man, At my belief in you.’ I believe that God is the solidarity, the generosity and the weakness of all human beings together. I don’t believe in a metaphysical entity with a white beard who lives in the sky, but I do believe in a synergetic occurrence in people’s hearts.”
Yehudah Glick (Likud): “Any objective person who looks at what has been happening in Israel over the past hundred years can see with his own eyes how the words of the prophets are emerging from the Bible and turning into reality. Is there any other possibility aside from a clear declaration that there is a guiding hand?”
Yigal Guetta (Shas): “Yes, of course.”
Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya (Joint List): “I decline to answer.”
Tzachi Hanegbi, minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (Likud): His spokesman promised an answer upon the minister’s return from abroad. None was forthcoming, and a second inquiry did not yield an answer either.
Sharren Haskel (Likud): “Yes.”
Akram Hasoon (Kulanu): “Determinism: In the Druze religion, the all-powerful God determines a person’s fate and the decisive moments in his life. The day of his birth, the day of his death, his health, his financial situation, and so on. Druze, including myself, are commanded to submit to God’s will and his dictates and accept them even when we don’t like them. This principle makes it a lot easier for Druze, especially the most devout believers, to accept harsh things in life like death, accidents and illness. Since it’s an act of God, there must be a certain wisdom to it that is not apparent to us humans at this time. Reincarnation: This is the most prominent aspect of the Druze religion compared to other religions. Druze religion says that at the time of death, the soul separates from the dead person’s body and moves into the body of a newborn and continues living. Monotheism: Druze passionately insist that they were the first who began to believe in one God, millions of years ago, and that the believers of the other monotheistic religions followed. Judgment Day: Druze believe in a Day of Judgment that will come at the End of Days. They believe in the existence of heaven and hell, not as actual places, but in the abstract. Commandments: The Druze religion has seven commandments that must be obeyed and observed in daily life: speak the truth – the most important one of all; safeguard your fellow Druze; [believe in] the oneness of God; renounce all other faiths; abandon all heretical ideas; accept God’s will.”
Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union): “As a Jewish person, I believe in God. God and faith in God were part of the tradition of my childhood, of my family and, of course, my people. But what does faith in God really mean to me? To me, faith in God is first of all our heritage. The Jewish people has been able to preserve its character for hundreds and thousands of years. But just as importantly, it was faith in God that preserved us, because it distinguished us from other peoples. I am aware every day that faith does not relieve me of responsibility for the decisions that we make daily as people and as leaders. These are decisions that must be made from looking at Israeli reality, and recognizing our needs as a state and a society. My belief in God comes in the ability to connect the heritage passed on to me in my childhood with the decisions I have to make in order to create a better world for my son.”
Oren Hazan (Likud): “I believe in God. It would take too long to go into all the reasons why. Ever since I was very young, I have believed in God with full faith, faith that has only grown over the years. Let me just say that every morning, when I wake up I say the ‘Modeh Ani’ prayer in gratitude to God for kindly restoring my soul. As soon as I get up every day, I thank the Creator. All the rest is a bonus.”
Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union): “Yes.”
Tzipi Hotovely, deputy foreign minister (Likud): “I believe in God.”
Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beiteinu): “Yes, I believe.”
Yousef Jabareen (Joint List): His spokesman said he would respond by last Thursday, then on Sunday said he would reply by email. No reply was received.
Haim Jelin (Yesh Atid): “No, no, no, sorry. I don’t give interviews about such things.”
Ayoub Kara (Likud): “I believe in a higher power that rules the world, a power that is commonly called God. However, I do not believe in religions, because one God cannot have different religions and wouldn’t want the rifts and struggles this causes in the world that He created.”
Haim Katz, welfare and social services minister (Likud): “We don’t take part in surveys, thank you.”
Yisrael Katz, transportation and road safety minister, intelligence and atomic energy minister (Likud): “Yes.”
Dov Khenin (Joint List): “I believe in people. In our capacity to choose, in our capacity to repair our society and reduce the suffering in life. In the struggle to prevent hell on earth, I also want to partner with those who believe in heaven. And in this struggle, I often call upon the progressive elements that are found in the religious traditions. From Judaism I take, for example, the revolutionary idea of a weekly day of rest, the sabbatical and jubilee years as guiding principles of justice, the setting of limits on exploitation of man and of nature, and Yom Kippur as a time-out from the rat race of work and consumerism, a time-out that becomes all the more vital in our ‘turbo-capitalistic’ world.”
Yoav Kish (Likud): Declined to respond.
Nurit Koren (Likud): “I believe” (she replied after laughing heartily upon hearing the question).
Sofa Landver, immigrant absorption minister (Yisrael Beiteinu): “God is always with me in heart and soul. I am not a religious woman, but I cherish the Jewish tradition and I observe the holidays and Jewish customs that I grew up with. After a personal tragedy in my life, something inside me broke in terms of faith, but I still believe that with all the differences between us and our right to choose the faith and way of life that is right for us – my God is always with me in my unique form of faith.”
Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid): “We’ll pass.”
Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid): “I came to know my God growing up in the Bukharan neighborhood of Jerusalem and He is still with me today. I believe in a god of acceptance and love, of roots and family, of continual dialogue with the Torah and with the people around me, whatever their faith may be.” (The full answer appears on the Haaretz Hebrew website, along with an article by MK Lavie, in which she writes, “Seared in my memory is the recognition of the existence of a female-Jewish chain that is connected to faith and feels it has the ability to negotiate with God. My book, ‘Tefilat Nashim’ [‘A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book’], which is dedicated to my late grandmother Chana Mashiah, who was without doubt the most significant figure in my childhood and in my life, seeks to recall what was and what was almost lost. To give voice to the faith that comes and goes from the heart.”
Orli Levi-Abekasis (Independent): “Yes.”
Yariv Levin, tourism minister (Likud): Declined to respond.
Jackie Levy (Likud): “I believe very strongly. Besides my total belief in God, I pray three times a day, observe Shabbat and the holidays, keep kosher and fast on the different fast days.”
Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid): “I consider this to be a personal matter, and therefore do not wish to respond.”
Yaakov Litzman, health minister (UTJ): “I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, is the Creator and Guide of everything that has been created; He alone has made, does make, and will make all things [from Maimonides’ 13 Principles of Faith].”
Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union): “We’ve decided not to answer.”
Uri Maklev (UTJ): “I believe.”
Yulia Malinovsky (Yisrael Beiteinu): “I believe that the answer to this question is something personal, and I prefer to keep it that way.”
Erel Margalit (Zionist Union): “I believe in God, but in the same way as Maimonides or Spinoza: in the abstract.”
Yakov Margi (Shas): “Absolutely, I believe that there is a God and I feel Divine providence everywhere.”
Yaron Mazuz (Likud): “Yes, I believe in God, I am a person of faith and I observe the mitzvot.”
Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union): “I don’t participate in surveys, and I won’t make an exception this time.”
Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Habayit Hayehudi): “Definitely, yes. My belief in the Creator motivates me in my personal and public life. My public activity in the fields of health, women’s rights, welfare, Israel and its Jewish identity is all done out of faith in the power to repair the world in the Kingdom of God.”
Menachem Eliezer Moses (UTJ): “I believe.”
Avraham Nagosa (Likud): “Yes, I believe in God. The God of Israel created man in his image and so we are obligated to respect all human beings and to thank God every morning for kindly giving us life.”
Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Union): “I believe. I’m not afraid to believe. In the toughest moments of my life, there was something a bit freeing in the sense that not everything is under our control, not everything depends on what we do for our loved ones. It’s not the kind of faith that requires daily prayer, but an understanding that there are some things for which there is no clear scientific explanation and things that are beyond our understanding.”
Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister (Likud): “The prime minister is in diplomatic meetings in the United States, he has no time for less serious things right now,” said Ran Baratz from the Prime Minister’s Office. In the 1996 survey, Netanyahu answered that he believes in God.
Ayman Odeh (Joint List): “I believe in God and I believe in every human being. My life is secular, but filled with respect for tradition and roots.”
Amir Ohana (Likud): “Yes.”
Michael Oren (Kulanu): “Believe.”
Amir Peretz (Zionist Union): “I am definitely someone who believes in God, in the values of liberal Judaism. I celebrate the Jewish holidays, fast on Yom Kippur and view the Shabbat, the day of rest, as an important social value not just as a Jew, but as a family man and as someone who fights for social justice and sanctifies the day of rest from this perspective, too. I am proud of the inclusive and pluralistic religion I was taught by my parents. We went to the synagogue in the morning and in the afternoon to the local soccer game. It was a tradition my parents brought with them from Morocco – a tradition of an inclusive Judaism that has room for everyone and tolerance for the Other. That is what they taught me. Our task is to expand the common denominator among all the groups in our society so we can build a better future together for our children.”
Jacob Perry (Yesh Atid): No answer was received despite repeated inquiries.
Tali Ploskov (Kulanu): “There are things a person keeps to himself.”
Yoel Razvozov (Yesh Atid): “No.”
Miri Regev, culture and sports minister (Likud): “Yes, I believe very strongly. Faith is a source of strength for me. Faith in an eternal good that is above us and gives meaning to our existence. The Jewish tradition is a marvelous way to give expression to faith in a person’s life, and also in our culture as a people.”
Miki Rosenthal (Zionist Union): “I give thanks to thee, master of the world, that I am a total atheist, which actually enables me to be fond of the idea of a divinity.” (MK Rosenthal responded with a 700-word essay that can be found on the Hebrew website. Some excerpts: “The idea of ‘God’ is mankind’s most important invention. It’s not easy to ‘deal with’ God, certainly in the pages of the newspaper. I don’t know why I let myself be sucked in by your provocation in Haaretz Magazine. Pondering faith only intensifies my questions, so I’ll try to make you believe that the following conversation took place this week in heaven:
“Albert Einstein: ‘The ability to sense that behind everything that can be experienced is something that our mind cannot grasp, something whose beauty and loftiness come to us only indirectly and in feeble reflections – this is religiosity, and in this sense I am religious.’ Martin Luther King: ‘You haven’t understood anything. Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole picture.’ Ludwig Wittgenstein: ‘If you’ve found meaning for our life, you can call it God.’ David Ben-Gurion: ‘God did not choose us. We chose God.’ ‘I refuse to prove that I exist,’ says God, ‘for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing’ [‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,’ by Douglas Adams].”
Michal Rozin (Meretz): “I respect all religions and their believers but I don’t believe in God or any divine entities. I don’t believe there is any divinity that is external to man, certainly not one that deals in fate and in man’s actions toward it or toward other people. I do believe in human morality, in man’s aspiration to goodness and man’s ability to choose between good and evil. Nonetheless, I definitely see great value in the moral and ethical philosophy that the Jewish religion brought to the world.”
Osama Saadia (Joint List): “Yes.”
Stav Shafir (Zionist Union): "Yes"
Nachman Shai (Zionist Union): “Ever since my parents died, I’ve been going every Shabbat morning to the Kiryat Hahinuch synagogue [in Mevasseret Zion] next to the ‘Meretz’ [Merkaz Tzevatim] kollel, and to Rabbi Yossi Sarid, one of the rabbis there. I know it sounds funny, but those are the real names. The two Yossis were good friends, by the way. I’ve known Rabbi Sarid for over 25 years, I used to go to him on Yom Kippur, with my friend Matan Vilnai. I also asked him to preside at my parents’ funerals, and it’s continued since then. Every Shabbat ... It’s a nice, welcoming congregation – Habayit Hayehudi and rightward. I try not to talk about politics there but I devoutly read all the Shabbat pamphlets. Their politics are far from mine. During Torah readings, they point out to me sections regarding the Land of Israel, and in response I point out sections about how to treat the slave, the orphan and the stranger. The values of Judaism. In the end we find a lot of common ground.” (The full answer appears on the Haaretz Hebrew website.)
Ayelet Shaked, minister of justice (Habayit Hayehudi): “Yes.”
Yifat Shasha-Biton (Kulanu): “I do believe, but I think that this should be a private matter, even when it comes to public figures.”
Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid): “I’m not interested in answering.”
Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union): No response, despite repeated inquiries.
Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi): “I believe in God who created the earth and the entire universe. I also believe that he continues to oversee everything that is done every day and every moment. Faith does not require mathematical proof, and I think that everyone – if not at every moment, then at certain moments in his life – turns to God. And anyone who was ever in the army feels this clearly ... Like a physicist who sees all the amazing laws by which the universe and the earth exist, and if we look at the human body too, there is no way all of this came about at random, there has to be a ‘master’ who created everything with wisdom. If you look at all the great scientists throughout history, you’ll see that nearly all believed that there must be a Creator of this whole incredible structure. Another thing is the entire history of the Jewish people as it appears in the Bible, starting with the Exodus from Egypt, through the giving of the Torah at Sinai in the presence of several million people (600,000 men and the rest women and children), our arrival in the Land of Israel, the founding of the Kingdom of Israel, the building of the two Temples, and especially our return to the Land of Israel and the founding of the Jewish state – this is all more good evidence that God exists.”
Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi): “There is none other.”
Yuval Steinitz, minister of national infrastructure, energy and water resources (Likud): “In my book ‘A Logical-Scientific Missile to God and Back,’ I presented logical-philosophical proof of God’s existence. As I see it, we have knowledge of God’s existence as the Creator of the world – knowledge and not faith. This proof is essentially a modern version of the philosophical proofs of God’s existence that were presented by Maimonides, Descartes and Leibniz.”
Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid): His spokesman, over the phone: “There’s nothing to quote here – what will you write? You’ll write what your editor tells you to write.”
Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union): “I believe in God, and the Jewish tradition is important to me. I also believe that my relationship with God is my own personal business, not the business of the government or the state or the Orthodox establishment.”
Revital Swid (Zionist Union): “Yes, I believe.”
Ahmad Tibi (Joint List): “Yes.”
Aida Touma-Suliman (Joint List): “Not interested in participating.”
Manuel Trajtenberg (Zionist Union): “I believe that we all need faith – faith in something bigger than us, that gives meaning to human existence. I believe that human society needs to be based upon people who believe in a common moral and ethical core by which they will conduct themselves and be judged. Must the object of that faith be God? For many people the answer is yes, for others, not necessarily. To me it’s less important to explicitly define the object of faith and much more important to live as a believing person and as a believing Jew: believing in the uniqueness and historic role of the Jewish people, in the values that our forefathers imparted to us, and in the need to leave a mark and create a better world for future generations, here in the Land of Israel ... As a believing person, I am equally repelled by vacuous individualism and blind messianism; I am sickened by the cynicism that poisons everything, I am troubled by the prospect of a loss of faith by the young generation, of which we demand so much, but which gets so little from us. Thus, this is the great task before us: to forge a vision, to raise a flag, to re-ignite faith.” (The full answer appears on the Haaretz Hebrew website.)
Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas): “An emphatic yes.”
Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union): “I don’t believe, I am secular. My Judaism is one of identity: I am part of a family and part of a people with a shared fate, history, culture and customs. My extended (ultra-Orthodox) family was destroyed in the Holocaust and my parents who survived were angry at God and felt betrayed. Paradoxically, even though I have a much more conciliatory attitude and harbor no resentment toward religion, and feel connected to the sources on the social level – their anger contained much greater faith. To be totally honest, I turn to God in times of trouble, just in case. He helps, and then like an ingrate, I return to my secularism.”
Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi): “Yes.”
Yossi Yonah (Zionist Union): “I don’t believe in reward and punishment that comes from God and I don’t believe in life after death. But my youthful rebellion against my father also ended a long time ago. I always put on a kippah when my father, who just turned 95, makes kiddush on Shabbat. I join him in saying the grace after meals and in various holiday rituals with the family, and I recite Kaddish when a relative is buried. And I wonder: Am I doing so in order to honor and please my father, or am also doing it to honor his Creator?” (The full answer appears on the Haaretz Hebrew website.)
Jamal Zahalka (Joint List): “No answer. You shouldn’t ask such questions.”
Tamar Zandberg (Meretz): “I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe in a superhuman or supernatural higher power. I believe that we – human beings, the community and society – are the source of our authority, knowledge and conscience. At the same time, I definitely know that God exists, not as a supernatural phenomenon, but as a real phenomenon: God is a social and political phenomenon. It was man who created a god for his purposes, in his image, and inserted him into language, into culture, art and politics. It was man who went out to war, and will evidently continue going out to endless blood-soaked wars in God’s name – man who, also in God’s name, oppresses women and denies gays and lesbians their dignity, who kills in the name of God, and at the same time seeks God’s kindness and comfort.” (The full answer appears on the Haaretz Hebrew website.)
Hanin Zoabi (Joint List): We sent several messages to her and her spokesperson, which went unanswered.
Miki Zohar (Likud): “Any thinking person understands that the universe did not create itself, but that there is a Creator that made the creation. Even the biggest fool wouldn’t believe that something simply came into being, certainly not something as complex as this world. The wonders of nature and the incredible order of nature, the non-randomness of it, are the greatest proof that there is a higher power that created all and oversees all – the Creator. We see before our eyes the survival of the Jewish people over thousands of years, despite the attempts to destroy it. Throughout the generations, the Jewish people continues to devoutly remember and observe all of the Jewish festivals, including the commemoration of the giving of the Torah at Sinai, and it has been doing so for 3,500 years. There is no other explanation for this except for the existence of God, who chose the Jewish people as his chosen people.”